Generalized anxiety disorder is a very real condition that currently affects over 6 million Americans. If you are concerned that your day-to-day worry and stress is heightened and persistent, it’s possible you are suffering in silence. Let’s take a look at what you’re experiencing and see if it’s time to get the healthy care you need.
Take an Honest Evaluation
One of the most important steps in getting help or cure for any physical or mental condition is to address it. Our society, although supportive in many ways, can make us feel “embarrassed” or “ashamed”—especially in the arena of mental health. It’s essential you take note of your feelings and behaviors, and what triggers them in a negative way.
For example, one day, you may see a news report about an earthquake that occurred across the globe. The next day, you start worrying that an earthquake might happen in the city in which you live. You stop taking the subway, afraid that if there’s a quake, you’ll be trapped. You text your children several times a day, worried that they won’t follow school safety protocols. You freak out if they don’t respond right away. This goes on for days, or weeks. You’re afraid to go far from home. You’re so afraid of your own worry that it makes you feel even more helpless and fearful.
Anxiety can take over and sweep you into a downward spiral of debilitating emotions.
Anxiety disorder doesn’t suggest there’s something “wrong with you.” It’s a medical label for those of us who experience more worry and fear (and more often) than the average Joe. When addressed properly, anxiety can be managed and dissipated.
When It Feels Like It’s Just Too Much
Unfortunately, often, panic attacks occur when the anxiety becomes too great to tolerate.
Here are some symptoms that accompany panic attacks:
your heart rate increases and you feel like your heart is pounding too hard or too fast
you have the sensation that you can’t breathe or can’t catch your breath
nausea or stomach pain
you think this sensation will never end
you think you might pass out or die
Yes, those are scary symptoms. They are frightening for the person who is having the panic attack as well as for anyone who is with that person.
What Action Can I Take?
When you’re in the midst of a panic attack, you can feel completely overwhelmed and helpless. However, if you’re reading this and you can relate, the next time an attack comes on, you’ll be armed with some tools.
The first thing is that you will recognize what is happening to you. You can actually say to yourself, “I am about to have a panic attack”, or “I’m having a panic attack.”
Acknowledge the episode.
Don’t let it get the best of you.
If you feel it coming on, try to take a mental step back. Try and look at yourself objectively, as if you are the professional and not the patient. Tell yourself you will get through this. You will live through it. You know you will!
Start taking deep breaths and focus on relaxing and getting to a calmer place. This will help distract your brain from the worrisome thoughts.
If you know someone you trust and understands what you’re experiencing, call them. Don’t feel ashamed. Asking for help is noble.
Whether it’s you or a loved one who is suffering through an attack, assure yourself (or them) that everything will be OK. Because it will be. You know it will!
Crying, hyperventilating, falling to the ground, curling into a ball—these are all common reactions to anxiety overload transformed into panic. Once the panic subsides, the body will naturally relax, and most often will become very tired (and feel worn out.)
Talk through your episode afterwards. You may be able to more clearly see the origin of worry and its trigger. Next time, you may be able to prevent an episode before it grabs hold of you.
Help Is Available
When we get beyond the stigma of mental illnesses, we can all begin to heal ourselves—and society as a whole. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends or family. If you feel you won’t be taken seriously or understood, then go to an outside source. There are many professional resources for those suffering from anxiety disorder.
Speak with your health practitioner or go online and do a search, “help for anxiety disorder.” Again, it’s a pervasive mental illness and it can be helped. If you want help, it’s available.
For other articles on best physical and mental health practices, check out www.GetThrive.com